firsts

a few firsts

So as I mentioned 2 weeks ago we celebrated UAE National Day here in Dubai on the 2nd of December. One of the things they do here on National Day is hold a Mass Wedding at St Mary’s Catholic Church. I had no idea this went on to be honest, I know they do mass weddings in China and other places, but that is about my only knowledge of them. So I was pretty excited to attend one when I was invited by a Filipino lady I have met here in Dubai.

Dubai Weddings Dubai Weddings

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floating and flying

Since moving to Dubai almost 5 years ago (wow gulp) I have become more and more involved with helping the stray cats of Dubai and the UAE. Unbelievably its a big problem here, I can’t comment on what the root causes are but unchecked breeding of the local Arabian Mau cat population coupled with lost and abandoned pet animals has resulted in a neverending supply of cats needing sterilisation, vet care and eventual re-homing (for those that are tame enough). Its frustrating, upsetting, thankless work but happily it is also extremely rewarding, which makes up for the rest. Seeing that once stray animal reclining like a king (or queen) in its new home is one of the best sights in my opinion. As part of this effort Stu and I support the Feline Friends ball every year. Its a fun evening out combined with good food, dancing and some great prizes (the raffle is our firm favourite). All whilst raising money for a very good cause**.

Kayaks

Kayaks in the Abu Dhabi mangroves

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Herbie to the rescue

There is an 11 year old British boy living in the UAE that has developed an acute fear of flying. Despite hypnotherapy he flatly refuses to step foot on a plane. No one is entirely sure why he suddenly feels this way as he has flown, without incident, several times in the past.

herbie

[Herbie. Photo credit: Richard Cartwright]



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Lagos to Beirut

At the end of March I had the opportunity to travel to two new, and interesting places. Lagos (Nigeria in case there can be any confusion) and Beirut (Lebanon).

It was with much trepidation that I approached the first trip. After being promised (perhaps threatened with some might say) a business trip to Nigeria in 2000, and after having what felt like a gazillion injections in preparation for said trip, I never actually went then, or since. I had managed to dodge the bullet a few times, but I could put it off no longer. I wasn’t sure what to expect. People who have been to Lagos either love or hate it, there seems to be no middle ground. Friends of mine have expatted there, and say “never again”, yet I met an Irish lady recently who couldn’t wait to move back there, children and all. The stereo-types are numerous; I wasn’t sure if I would be conned, kidnapped or mugged, or all three. I was very aware that I needed to “be prepared” and so made sure my immigration contact was arranged, as was my driver. I had local phone numbers for emergency contacts I had never met (from friends) saved just “in case”. I was ready!

[view from the hotel on Victoria Island]



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what-a-lot-we-got

I finally ate at Zuma (DIFC) last week.¬†Thankfully it was a business dinner so I wasn’t paying, as I have heard it is quite expensive.

[dessert! WOW]



There are two sections to the restaurant, the upstairs lounge which is more relaxed with low tables and big cushiony chairs, and then the downstairs part which is more restauranty. We sat upstairs, which is supposedly the more popular choice as it’s more vibey. That may well be true but I have to say I’m not a fan of those low tables – the table always feels a little bit far away for me and the top generally ends up being in line with my knees – which usually means I end up having to bring the plate up to my face to eat.

Zuma is a predominantly Japanese-style restaurant from what I could tell, with the emphasis on small plates of food being shared by the table vs traditional starters and main courses. This is fine in theory but let me tell you grabbing a piece of marinated sea bass off a central platter with chopsticks and then getting it safely to your mouth without dropping marinade, or in fact the entire thing, on your lap is quite tricky, and resulted in me not trying some of the courses at all.

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Animal Rescue

If you would like to contribute a few dollars towards my TNR work with stray cats I would be most grateful

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